Outstanding Lysistrata Cast to Grace the Boards at TSP

The creative team behind Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia – the new play by David S. Craig – are pleased to present the actors who will be bringing this production to an audience for the first time ever on Earth Sunday, April 24th, 2:00 p.m. at Trinity St. Paul’s. Tickets are on sale now via Eventbrite or at the door. This promises to be an inspiring and uplifting way to mark Earth Sunday – all ages are welcome!


Sophia Walker (Lysistrata)Walker

Sophia has extensive theatre credits including Blood Wedding, Jitters, The Heidi Chronicles at the Soulpepper Theatre Company. Mary’s Wedding (The Blyth Festival), Intimate Apparel (The Grand Theatre) and nine seasons at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. She played Salima in the Dora-winning production of Ruined (Obsidian/Nightwood) and Menelaus and Kerthia in the Dora-winning The Penelopiad (Nightwood Theatre). She also has extensive film and television credits and has won Mary Savidge, Michael Mawson and Jean A. Chalmers and Dora Awards.

John Cleland (Cleon)Cleland

John has been a working actor since 1995.  He has worked at theatres around Canada but has been fortunate to be able to work primarily in Toronto since the birth of his children 12 years ago.  He has worked with David (and Roseneath Theatre) on two pieces prior to Lysistrata – Wrecked  and Tough Case.  John is excited to embark on this new ride with such an accomplished group.

For more about John please check out his website at johnnycleland.com.

Anand Rajaram (Pietr)Rajaram

Anand has worked extensively with VideoCabaret, CORPUS, Second City, Stratford Festival, CanStage and others. He created Hys Unauthoryzed Lyfe & Tymes, Communist ‘Til Payday, Cowboys & Indians, and Stories From The Mountaintop. Recently, he was in Mustard at the Tarragon Theatre. Upcoming, at Soulpepper, he’ll be part of the Asian Bamboo Cabaret and in The 39 Steps. He is a regular panelist on CBC Radio’s Because News.

Paolo Santalucia (Theo)Santalucia

A graduate of the University of Toronto and Sheridan College’s Theatre and Drama Studies Program Paolo Santalucia is a Dora award-winning Toronto-based theatre artist. Paolo has worked in multiple productions for Soulpepper Theatre, the Tarragon Theatre Theatre Passe Muraille,  Driftwood Theatre, YPT  and The Howland Company. Paolo is the recipient of two Dora awards for his work in the Ensemble of Of Human Bondage and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and is also the recipient of a MyTorotontoTheatre Award for his work in Hamlet.

Cliff Saunders  (“G” & Gaia’s Familiar)Saunders

Cliff has appeared in The Heir Apparent (Chicago Shakespeare). Les Miserables (Broadway/ Toronto), The 39 Steps (Broadway/Boston), and David S. Craig’s Danny King of the Basement (Roseneath). Cliff has also performed in other roles for the Stratford Festival, Canstage, Mirvish, Tarragon, Soulpepper, Citadel, Aquarius, Grand, YPT, and Blyth among other companies.

Jenny Young (“H” & Gaia)Young

Jenny has extensive theatre experience including Waiting Room (Tarragon);  Christina, The Girl King and  Alice Through the Looking Glass (Stratford Festival); A Moon for the Misbegotten, Age of Arousal (Shaw Festival); Innocence Lost (Centaur, NAC); The Penelopiad (Royal Shakespeare Company, NAC); The Anger in Ernest And Ernestine (Theatre Columbus); and The Shape of a Girl (National Tour).

Mayko Nguyen (Cassandra)Nguyen

Dora Award nominee Mayko has performed in  LULU v.2 (Rhubarb estival), Helen Lawrence (Canadian Stage), Passion Play (OtM/Convergence Theatre/Sheep No Wool), Carried away on the crest of a wave (Tarragon Theatre), Offensive Fouls (Hustle N’ Bustle Theatre). Mayko has also appeared in numerious television and film productions.

 

Natalia Gracious (Pandora)Gracious

A graduate of Sheridan Institute’s Musical Theatre program, Natalia’s past credits include Anjali in Beneath the Banyan Tree (Theatre Direct), Marcy Park in The 25th Annual…Spelling Bee (The Grand Theatre), Pepper in Annie (YPT) and two years as Sister Mary Leo in Nunsense (Harbourfront Theatre). A fan of David S. Craig, Natalia is excited to be here! Natalia can be seen at nofunbiz.com.


David S. Craig (Playwright)Craig

David S. Craig is a Toronto based playwright, actor, and producer. He has written twenty-eight professionally produced plays including Having Hope at Home, The Neverending Story and Danny, King of the Basement which have been produced across Canada, The United States, and Europe.  Mr. Craig has won The Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Production (three times), the Chalmers New Play Award (three times), the Rideau Award, The Canada Council Prize, The Writer’s Guild Prize for Radio Drama and a Harold. In 2014 he was awarded the Barbara Hamilton Award for Artistic Excellence from the City of Toronto.

Leah Cherniak (Director)Cherniak

Leah Cherniak is the Co-Founder with Martha Ross of Theatre Columbus (now Common Boots Theatre) in Toronto. The company created over 30 new plays and has an excellent reputation for innovative productions of classics. Leah studied theatre at École Jacques Lecoq in Paris after graduating from U of T with a theatre degree from the University College Drama Program. She is an Associate Artist with the Soulpepper Theatre Company in Toronto.

Krista MacIsaac (Stage Manager)Krista

Krista has been worshipping Gaia off and on since high school. She has stage managed North American tours for Roseneath Theatre, concerts and events for Roy Thomson Hall, Massey Hall, TIFF and Tapestry Opera. Other credits include Common Boots, Odyssey Theatre, YPT, Luminato, and Mirvish.

 

Talking Lysistrata with Director Leah Cherniak

Talking Lysistrata with Director Leah Cherniak

Leah Cherniak is the Co-Founder with Martha Ross of Theatre Columbus (now Common Boots Theatre) in Toronto. The company created over 30 new plays and has an excellent reputation for innovative productions of classics. Leah studied theatre at École Jacques Lecoq in Paris after graduating from U of T with a theatre degree from the University College Drama Program. She is an Associate Artist with Soulpepper Theatre Company. We caught up with her in early April as she was starting to get ready for rehearsals.

Q. Are you excited to be bringing this new play to an audience for the first time?

A. I’m always excited to be doing something new with David – even though it is just a single performance. He’s a fantastic talent and I’m really enjoying working with him on putting this reading together.

Q. Is this play a modern classic or a classicly modern one?

A. It is definitely modern and contemporary but I think of it more as a complete reinvention of a classic play. The main characters are there but the situation, dialogue and the struggle are completely reimagined for today’s audiences.

Q. What has intrigued you the most about reading the play so far?

A. I directed another version of this play about 15 years ago so it is really fun to read something you are already familiar with and then see how the playwright has adapted and changed the source material. I also love the fact that the women in this play are the strong characters that move the action and are counteracting the actions of the men’s agenda. It’s also really funny.

Q. Lysistrata is a dramatic reading rather than a full-on play – how does that make your job as Director more difficult?

A. As a Director I can only prepare so much because we have very limited rehearsal time. This makes the project more fun but also more challenging. We will need to really focus on the essential parts to activate the audience’s imagination and bring the world of Lysistrata to life.

Q. I understand that there will be some Greek Chorusing going on – how will you be using that?

A. Lysistrata is not a musical but the Greek chorus will bring some music and song that will help to play up the comedic aspects. The songs have a lovely cabaret style vibe that sets the comedy going from the beginning and sustains it throughout as the they keep coming back with “new and improved” messages for the cast and audience.

Q. How do you feel about the issue at hand – is climate change affecting your life today?

A. Experiencing Lysistrata & the Temple of Gaia is a great reminder to everyone that we need to keep focused on this issue – we need to get on with fixing things and stop talking about it. The play is not prescriptive but still very forceful. Comedy is a great way to get a point across to a broad audience.

Q. What do you think the audience should know about Lysistrata before seeing the show?

A. This is not some kind of fusty old Greek classic. David has done an amazing job of making this play really contemporary and witty. It will be a delightful afternoon.

Embracing the Primordial

Embracing the Primordial

It is always a pleasure to hear and read reflections from the congregation. I’d like to share this short article I received last week – written directly to the experience at Trinity-St. Paul’s:

EMBRACING THE PRIMORDIAL AT TRINITY-ST. PAUL’S*

“Primordial”, now what the heck does that mean? How about “having existed from the beginning”? Marcus Borg, well known and widely respected New Testament scholar, uses that word to describe the premodern view of the world and human experience. To put it briefly, the primordial view, shared by all premodern societies and cultures, was an understanding and experience of existence as multilayered. The world was made up of rocks, trees, water, animals and humans, with time and space, but it was more. Existence was physical, but the physical was interwoven with the spiritual. The spirit dimensions of life varied greatly from one culture to another. Christians are most familiar with the Jewish understanding of the spiritual dimension of life and existence through our reading of the Hebrew Scriptures. That massive book, with such a wide variety of content and styles, is the attempt by individuals and communities to describe and understand the primordial spiritual world in which “they lived and moved and had their being.”  Scriptures are shaped by powerful spiritual moments and events. Here are examples from one book of the Bible: the burning bush, the Exodus, the Mt. Sinai encounters with the Spirit.

The universal and varied primordial views of the world began to disappear in the 17th and 18th centuries with the coming of the Enlightenment. The world became limited to what you can see with your eyes, touch with your hands, hear with your ears, taste with your tongue and calculate through thinking and experience. That’s all there is: an effective understanding of existence which has enabled humanity to do remarkable things. Just think of the medical, the communication, the comfort and safety possibilities that have emerged in the modern world. There is lots of negative too, e.g. armaments, but let’s celebrate and embrace the positive dimensions of modernity.

Why should us Christians embrace the primordial? Affirming the spiritual/primordial dimension of existence is integral to Christian faith. Being a spiritual person in this secular urban environment ain’t easy. That is an especially challenging dimension of our faith individually and collectively.  We can celebrate the fact that there seem to be an increasing number of people who say, “I am spiritual, but not religious.” Let’s find out what it means. Closer to home, what does “the spiritual” mean in your faith, in your life, and in mine?

Embracing the primordial means exploring and affirming the spiritual dimension of our faith. Here’s an example. On Advent One, Rev. Emily talked in her sermon about Hope and she challenged us to distinguish between “hope for” and “hope in.” I suggest the former is an expression of modernism (nothing wrong with that) and the latter is an expression of the primordial and with it comes challenging spiritual implications.

TSP has taken the spiritual/primordial dimension of Christian faith seriously as we move into two years of our congregational life under the leadership of Rev. Judith and the Interim Ministry Team. Remember how the interim process began? Yes, with the “Listening to the Spirit” initiative, a primordial beginning. Let’s make sure the “the spiritual” plays a significant role going forward. Perhaps TSP is seriously toying with the idea of embracing “the primordial”!

* This article is inspired by chapter 6, “Root Images and the Way We See: The Primordial Tradition and the Biblical Tradition” in Marcus Borg’s JESUS IN CONTEMPORARY SCHOLARSHIP

Rev. Douglas Varey
December 2015